WIB Live: Josh Smith

Lemonade

Josh Smith live @ Yard Club, Cologne, Germany

Words & photos: Vincent Abbate

Some days you go to a concert. Other days, you really need to hear the blues.

This particular mid-November tick on the calendar put me through the wringer. It began with an unwanted call from my auto mechanic (“Your car’s not ready”) and found me filing a formal complaint and request for reimbursement at the local train station eight harrowing hours later. It was a traveler’s worst nightmare, like something out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and though I didn’t flip out like Steve Martin at the car rental counter, my insides were churning.

When evening arrived, I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I should have been 150 kilometers away in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, taking care of important business. Instead, I was moping around at home. It felt as though life had handed me a whole sack full of lemons. There really was nothing left to do but lug that sack out to one of my favorite haunts, the Yard Club, hoping to turn them into lemonade.

That’s where the blues comes in.

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WIB Live: Jonny Lang

Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

Jonny Lang live @ Gloria, Cologne, Germany

Words & photos: Vincent Abbate

The next time I hear someone knock Jonny Lang for being not gritty or gutty or bluesy enough, I am going to whack him upside the head.

But maybe it would be smarter to send them to the nearest Jonny Lang concert, where the evidence will surely speak for itself – as it did on this colossally beautiful October evening in Cologne.

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WIB Live: Ash Grunwald

Puttin’ the Hammer Down

Ash Grunwald live @ topos, Leverkusen, Germany

Words: Vincent Abbate / Photos: Udo Udelhoven, Gerwin Jakobowski

There’s not much hollering and moaning in the blues anymore.

We’ve got singers, the good and the great, and not a few vocally challenged guitarists. But can anyone rattle the window panes with his voice? That’s what happened when the incomparable Son House took his otherworldly field holler indoors to the coffee houses a half-century ago. And when, even further back, Robert Johnson moaned his “Me And The Devil Blues,” well … you could practically see ol’ Satan close his claws around the doomed minstrel’s shoulder.

Ash Grunwald has got the holler down.

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